by Seamus Heaney

My father worked with a horse-plough,

His shoulders globed like a full sail strung

Between the shafts and the furrow.

The horses strained at his clicking tongue.
An expert. He would set the wing

And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.

The sod rolled over without breaking.

At the headrig, with a single pluck
Of reins, the sweating team turned round

And back into the land. His eye

Narrowed and angled at the ground,

Mapping the furrow exactly.
I stumbled in his hobnailed wake,

Fell sometimes on the polished sod;

Sometimes he rode me on his back

Dipping and rising to his plod
I wanted to grow up and plough,

To close one eye, stiffen my arm.

All I ever did was follow

In his broad shadow round the farm.
I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,

Yapping always. But today

It is my father who keeps stumbling

Behind me, and will not go away.

“Follower” by Seamus Heaney from Selected Poems: 1966-1987. © Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1987. 

Advertisements